How the U.S. is Subsidizing Death and Drug Trafficking on Stolen Lands

The Dark Side of Plan Colombia

Published on Alternet.org, by Teo Ballvé, June 2, 2009.

As Congress prepares to debate new Plan Colombia funding, it’s time to investigate how money for biofuels is linked to violence and bloodshed …

… Land Theft and the Biofuel Boom:

Brig. Gen. Pauxelino Latorre led an elderly farmer through a maze of concrete hallways, past a series of harshly lit rooms overlooking banana plantations and deep into the barracks of the Colombian army’s Seventeenth Brigade in Carepa, a town in northwestern Colombia. Soldiers saluted stiffly as the general barreled by. The farmer – Enrique Petro – poor, in his late 60s, shuffled a few steps behind, trying to avoid eye contact. 

Petro was understandably anxious. Criminal investigations had repeatedly linked the Seventeenth Brigade to illegal paramilitary groups that had brutally killed thousands, including Petro’s brother and teenage son. As he walked deeper into the barracks, Petro had a sense of foreboding. Latorre opened a door into a building at the back of the base, where Javier Daza, then head of Urapalma, was waiting. In the ensuing encounter, Daza and the general did most of the talking.

It was August 2004. A few days earlier, Petro had complained to the general that Urapalma was growing oil palms on land paramilitaries had stolen from him in 1997, in the nearby province of Chocó. In response, the general had suggested a meeting at the base, and Petro, supposing he had little to lose, had agreed. By the end of the brief sit-down, Petro says, Daza and Latorre had intimidated him into legally validating the seizure of his land. With Latorre’s signature on the contract as a witness, Petro lost 85 percent of his 370-acre farm – for which, nearly five years later, he has yet to receive the meager payment … (full long 5 pages text).

Links:

Watch this video: U’wa Oil Resistance – Colombia, 8.09 min, 23 January 2008.

COLOMBIA: Campesinos threatened with displacement by Biofuel Palm Industry, by Stewart Vriesinga, May 21, 2009.

Biofuel Boom Means Bust for Colombian Campesinos, Oct. 18, 2007.

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